News and Tribune


November 25, 2012

CUMMINS: The anatomy of elderly people

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — The human body decays, as does the mind. I dislike continually harping on the aging process, and I know you youngsters don’t want to hear it, but you need to walk in our shoes. Many of us can’t even bend down to tie our shoes, due to deposits on our spines. Our total anatomy is not a pretty picture, and that’s why we shun putting ourselves on Facebook. Our social networking consists of watching people on television, staring at neighbors walking past our window or talking to a dog. Social interaction with our age group, most of whom have sicknesses, is waiting with them in a doctor’s office. Each time the receptionist asks me, “How are you today?” I want to hit her.

Young people get their abundance of energy from junk food washed down with 24 ounces of free re-fills all day long. If we drink 10 ounces after 4 p.m., it’s an all-night parade to the bathroom. Junky stuff gives us heartburn, which is not a concern; the beating and pacing of our heart is. How would you like to have an artificial clicker embedded in your chest?

Back in the old days, if you ever saw a doctor, he diagnosed you with a condition known as “old age.” He prescribed drinking sassafras tea, which keeps your blood thin to prevent clotting. It clotted anyway, so you dried up and died. The Bible is full of old people, and every one of them died, except one. Some went on to heaven to rest in peace, but the mean ones went to another place. We don’t mean to, but contrariness comes natural. You’d get mean too, if you had a colonoscopy today and a polyp removal tomorrow.

Here’s what our anatomy looks like, piece by piece. Younger women up to about 60 frequently wear leopard-skin underwear. We elders wear spots, too, but they settle on our bodies naturally and look like dirt. I’m splotched with several of them now, most on my face. Hair once covered our heads, but it stops growing up there, and begins sprouting on the ears and inside the nose. Our feet go first changing into things like flappers that penguins use. Take our knees and hips, which give us about the same mileage that a school bus gets. Bone surgeons run specials on them, and you can get new ones made by U. S. Steel.

We will skip the sex extremities, because they become a nuisance to elders, like a tire that’s gone flat. The real troubles start in our inner chamber. If you have a hit-and-miss respiratory, cardiovascular and digestive system, you’re lucky. If not, the government will send you to a team of physicians versed in Medicare. It will save time to move in with them. What I do is carry a backpack with food, painkillers and a sleeping bag. They will run tests and then put your results on a Facebook page for the world to see. No, I’m adding a little humor here to keep from going nuts. The condition of our lives is entered as data on a computer, which can be hacked by cyber terrorists. Forget privacy. You are the same as naked before the world, and your only option is to cover yourself with a warm blanket.

Moving up from the vital-organs to the face area, avoid looking at it in a mirror, which may appear smudged. No, it’s poor circulation causing various types of decay in your glazed-over eyes, partial-plate mouth and dripping nasal passages unless they’re clogged. Chewing may become a chore, which might affect your sense of smell. When you can’t smell yourself, or your scroungy dog that needs a bath, call Roto-Rooter. You might be able to distinguish nail clippers from your car keys, which are somewhere in your house, but where? Either your children or the government is hiding them from you.

Let’s not go up where your mind once was. Remember, though, the Lord cares for you. He designed a “forget” switch in your brain to keep you from remembering how simple life was before the invasion of the deadly cyber-space plague.

What can you do, but stay high on life and laugh along with it? All we want is empathy and a young person to talk to without an iPod in his hands. All I want is someone to walk in my house slippers from the lounge chair to my bed.

Contact Terry Cummins at

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